May Creek Boat Camp, Ross Lake

I tried something new (to me). My plan was to rent a kayak and paddle in to Cougar Island with my tent and sleeping bag, but when I applied for my permit I learned I’d have to share the island with a couple who was already camping there. The ranger told me “the most popular site on Ross Lake is available. It has a waterfall, and room for one.” So I found myself at May Creek Boat Camp, and because it’s farther than I planned to go, I took the water taxi.

The boat dropped me off early Thursday morning, and we arranged for it to pick me up on Saturday. As the boat left, the feeling of being alone in an immense wilderness came over me, it was a joy.

Ross Lake is a 20 mile long finger lake surrounded by big mountains, greenish blue with silt from melted glaciers. At one end is the Ross Lake Resort; this is where you can rent kayaks and canoes, and catch the water taxi. The resort it a mile from the road, a short hike that goes steeply down hill.

A creek on the way to the Ross Lake Resort.

Hiking to the Ross Lake Resort

On the way down I ran into two Border Patrol agents, one of them with a machine gun draped over his chest. This, also, is something I’d never encountered before. They said they had been doing boat patrols, since Ross Lake extends into Canada, about 15 miles away.

At the resort, I loaded my backpack into a small boat, and we left for May Creek Camp.

The ride begins

Leaving Ross Lake Resort

In the background is the Ross Lake Dam and Colonial Peak behind it.

Around a corner on the lake, and civilization disappears.

Into the Wild

Dropped off.

Alone in camp for the next three days

First order of business: find this waterfall. Turns out it’s best viewed from a boat, it sits at the bottom of a ravine. The ground is steep and wet. I got a glimpse from above and some pictures that didn’t turn out well.

May Creek running into Ross Lake

May Creek outlet to Ross Lake

The bright, vibrant greenish blue color of the water is true to life, believe it or not. The water is startlingly clear, giving a view 20+ feet below of the submerged cliffs and tree trunks. In the bottom right corner is a hint of the waterfall that graced my camp.

The first night was clear and cold, with a full moon rising from the south east.

Watching the night sky from the edge of the lake

Stargazing in camp

The next day I hiked the East Bank Trail to Devil’s Creek and then a bit south of my camp on the way back. As the day wore on, clouds came in over the lake, growing darker. I gathered fuel for the fire that would keep me warm, mostly drift wood. Eventually the rain came and I took shelter in my camp. All night it stormed, but the sun was out the next day, mixing with the clouds, letting me dry my tent’s rain fly.

Clouds remaining after the storm

Volatile weather after the storm

Eventually the boat came to pick me up, right on schedule. We went back to the edge of the lake, and I hiked out to the trailhead where my car and a clean set of clothes were waiting for me.

Small creek on the Ross Lake Resort trail

A bridge over a small creek on the Ross Lake Resort Trail


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